XENIA — Will Urschel can boast something few elected officials can.
He was voted into office without seeing his name appear on a ballot. The Xenia resident was one of three write-in candidates for an open seat on the Xenia City Council. The seat originally belonged to Sarah Mays and became available when she was elected mayor.
Thomas Scrivens was appointed to that seat earlier this year, but the city charter requires a November election to fill the spot for the remainder of the term. Scrivens’ petitions were not validated, and Urschel, Billie Carrico and Phillip Rene Shaw became official write-in candidates to fill the term until the November 2019 election.
Urschel received 940 votes to win the seat over Carrico (413), and Shaw (8), according to unofficial results from the Greene County Board of Elections. There are 114 provisional ballots that have yet to be counted, but they won’t affect the final results.
“Appreciate all the hard work of the folks that were helping,” Urschel said. “A lot of folks willing to get out and pass out flyers on the street. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this.”
Urschel is no stranger to civil service, however. He recently retired from the Wright-Patterson Air Force after 34 years, the same amount of time he’s lived in Xenia.
Urschel also served the community through volunteer opportunities with IHN, the Xenia Area Association of Churches and Ministries — hes an ordained pastor — juvenile court, and Dayton Christian Schools and others.
“I’ve tried to look for ways to donate time back to the community,” he said. “I’ve always been committed to the city.”
That’s why he decided to run for council when someone approached him after he gave the invocation at a recent council meeting.
Urschel said the roads are the city’s biggest challenge but there are other issues on which he is focused as well.
“I’m concerned that our city is missing out on a big economic engine in the area, which is the base,” he said.
Urschel said not a lot of Xenia grads think about a career at Wright-Patt and he wants to work to make that more attractive to residents.
“Economically that would just really help us,” he said.
Another goal is to address poverty in the town. Urschel said he wants to not only help those who live in poverty but to help them “graduate” from that. He said the economy is improving, but many available jobs are “white collar” and according to a recent census, 80 percent in Xenia had only a high school education.
He wants to make sure everyone has employment opportunities.
Urschel will be sworn in at an upcoming meeting and will serve the remainder of Mays’ original term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019. After that, will we see his name on a ballot?
“I think my wife burned all the signs,” he joked. “I’m not so sure she voted for me.”
In all seriousness, Urschel said if he isn’t able to help the city, he will get out of the way for someone who can.
“I don’t want to (run again) if it’s not a good fit,” he said.